In a season that saw the St. Lawrence Saints gain a spot in the conversation regarding national championship contenders, a significant factor for their placing in the polls was attributed to the efforts of Brooke Webster, a fantastic forward who shone as an offensive catalyst. Developing into a mainstay as both a leader and elite competitor, she anchored the offense while instilling confidence in her teammates that the program’s goals were definitely attainable.
Having starred at the PWHL level with the Toronto Jr. Aeros, complemented by a gold medal with Team Ontario Red at the Canadian U18 nationals, Webster’s exceptional talents paid remarkable dividends for the program. Increasing on her point total in every season with the Saints, it symbolized a gradual progression towards greatness, which sees rank seventh in all-time scoring for the program.
Amassing a career best 57 points (including the postseason), Webster trailed only Cayley Mercer, a member of the rival Clarkson Golden Knights, whose 62 points ranked first in the nation. Assembling 12 performances with two points on the scoresheet, including three straight games from January 7-13, 2017, her offensive mastery was further enhanced by six games where she logged at least three points, which saw the Saints manage an impressive 5-0-1 mark. For her efforts, Webster was deservedly named to the All-America team.
Among five Canadians that gained All-America honors, Webster was part of the Second Team, joined by a trio of Wisconsin Badgers (blueliner Jenny Ryan and forwards Sarah Nurse and Annie Pankowski) along with Ohio State goaltender Kassidy Sauve and Clarkson blueliner Savannah Harmon. Also named a First-Team ECAC All-Star, she was one of five Saints that gained All-Star recognition, which also included fellow forwards Kennedy Marchment on the First-Team and Second-Team nod Hannah Miller. Joining Miller as Saints on the Second-Team were blueliner Kirsten Padalis and goaltender Grace Harrison, a member of the New Zealand national women’s team who captured 23 wins.
In the midst of such accolades, the most prestigious may have involved gaining a hallowed spot among the Top 10 Finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Award. One of six forwards among this group, Webster was joined by Marchment, who was also part of the 50-point club this season. Both also saw their dream seasons culminate as finalists for the ECAC Hockey Best Forward Award. Marchment, who was raised in Courtice, Ontario, has developed into a linemate and a close friend, amassing a notable 52 regular season points, ranking second in the ECAC. Accentuating this impressive offensive output was six game winning goals. As a side note, both are part of the program’s 100-point club, having each reached the milestone this season.The third forward from the ECAC to reach Finalist status for the Patty Kazmaier Award included Clarkson’s Mercer. The WCHA featured Pankowski, who has also skated with the US national team, UMD Bulldogs leading scorer Lara Stalder, the only European among the nominees, along with a pair of Minnesota Golden Gophers in Kelly Pannek and Sarah Potomak.
“It was an incredible honor to be a top-10 finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award. The individuals that have been considered for this award or have won it in the past speaks volumes about how prestigious this award is. The All-American selection was also very exciting, just seeing the other five forwards that were selected shows how tough it is in the NCAA, so I was really happy I earned such a highly-respected reward.
Even though these awards are individual, I could not have done it without my teammates and coaching staff. They were the main reason for the success I had throughout the season, so the awards were just a bonus!”
During the regular season, Webster logged points in 29 of 32 games, testament to her importance in the Saints success in her senior campaign. Ranking third in the ECAC in points, while her 31 assists placed second in conference and third nationally, she also added ECAC Player of the Week honors (awarded October 4) to her list of impressive achievements.
Attaining career highs in all major statistical categories, Webster’s prolific efforts were highlighted by an outstanding performance to jumpstart her senior season. Beginning with an amazing 15-game scoring streak, it was a key factor in attributing the strong start for the Saints. Recording 24 points during said streak, Webster would make an immediate impact, logging five points as the Saints started the 2016-17 season with a two-game sweep of Northeastern.
Although the team-best 15 game streak reached its end on November 22 at Penn State, Webster would start another streak following game. Bouncing back with a sparkling three assist performance against rival Clarkson, this streak would see Webster record 11 points in six straight games, ranging from December 1 to January 14, 2017.
Following that streak, Webster would top it with an even more brilliant performance, managing at least one point in seven straight contests. Coincidentally, each one of these three streaks began with a three point performance. This streak saw Webster record a goal and two assists in an important match against conference rivals Cornell on January 21. She would duplicate the same performance in her next match, also against a conference opponent, as the Saints defeated the Union Dutchwomen.
Throughout such success, Webster displays the maturity and acumen that made her such a valued scorer for the Saints this season. An unselfish player whose confidence definitely increased heading into her final season, she graciously recognized that any success is attained through a total team effort,
“Firstly, I think the main thing that helped my line mates and I succeed so early in the season was that we all worked really hard over the summer and came back ready to go and in top shape not only physically, but mentally. It helped that our team chemistry was really good, we all got along well and wanted each other to thrive.
Every line we had contributed in different ways, whether it be shutting down another team’s top line or just being there to keep the energy level up, so I think that helped our line be able to succeed a lot throughout the season.
I also think that being a senior, I was more comfortable playing and knew what to expect. I wouldn’t get worked up about little things I may have in the past, so that helped me be able to be more of a dominant player.”
During the postseason, Webster set the offensive tone with five points in a convincing two-game sweep of Yale in the first round of the ECAC playoffs. The fans at Appleton Arena were treated to a brilliant offensive performance by the Saints, capturing the series with a cumulative score of 8-1.
While the playoff run would culminate with an appearance in the NCAA tournament against the Boston College Eagles, Webster managed to gain recognition as the ECAC Player of the Week for her domination of Yale, a fitting tribute to an unforgettable season,
“It definitely was a nice way to finish off the end of the season! I think our team really put its best foot forward when we entered playoffs against Yale, so I think that helped because everyone was on their A-game and was working hard. So, it made it easier to be comfortable at such an important part of the season which relieved some of the stress associated with the playoffs.”
Perhaps more impressive than Webster’s radiance on the offense is the fact that she is also a Hockey Humanitarian. Helping to set an admirable example by demonstrating the positive potential that student-athletes can have on both campus life and in their community, she has given her time to a series of fantastic initiatives. Among them are the Community Based Learning Program, which has partnerships with numerous groups in the Canton community, which aims to fuse learning and an analytical approach whereby students, faculty and the community mutually benefits.
Joined by Marchment, the two are also volunteers at the student-run Campus Kitchens Program (CKP). Founded in 2010, when a student applied for a grant as part of a senior project, the CKP has evolved into an essential service in the community. With prepared meals aimed at meeting nutritional requirements of needy individuals of all ages, the Canton Unitarian Church engages in the serving, emblematic of a true team effort.
Both Webster and Marchment also managed to balance the responsibilities of athletic competition and study with roles as mentors on the Canton Minor Blades girls’ hockey program. Graciously finding time to participate in this program is a great example of two exemplary athletes truly paying it forward, helping to inspire the next generation of hockey heroes who shall eagerly look to emulate their proud sporting legacies in the North Country.
While the chance to celebrate such legacies occurs annually on senior night, of which Webster was joined by Alex Moore and Kirsten Padalis, there was a feeling of mixed emotions. With the home-ice advantage against Yale in the first round of the ECAC playoffs, there would be another opportunity to compete at least one more time on home ice, prolonging the closing stages on such a proud career.
In the aftermath of the NCAA tournament tilt with Boston College was when Webster absorbed the impact that her spell with the Saints truly drew to a close. Reflections on such an exceptional epoch in her playing career were quickly met with feelings defined by a sense of kinship and unity. Undoubtedly, the teammates at the collegiate level tend to be the closest-knit in any athletic career, and the sense of admiration and respect is one that is truly reciprocal, shaping this hockey chapter as one of the most cherished for Webster.
“Heading into senior night was a weird feeling, because it all suddenly felt real that my college career was coming to an end soon. However, I do not think senior night was as emotional this year as it had been in past years because we knew we had clinched a home playoff series for the following weekend, so we knew it was not the last time we were going to be playing at Appleton.
When our season ended at Boston College, which was definitely when it was most emotional for me. I knew that was my last college game ever, so it was pretty sad.
I have had an amazing four years at St. Lawrence, and there is so many things that I am going to miss, but I think the thing I am going to miss most is being part of such a tight-knit community, and being able to go to the rink every day with people that make it so fun to be there.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Photo credits: Tara Freeman